One of the most complicated geopolitical areas to lucidly explain are events in the Middle East. Many pundits try to do so using think tank briefings from the comfort of their own country.
Veteran war correspondent and political analyst, Elijah J. Magnier, has been on the ground in the region for nearly four decades.
Host, Ross Ashcroft, met up with Magnier to get some independent insight into what the the latest American bombing campaign means for the wider region.
Tacitus’ famous phrase, “They make a desert and call it peace” was uttered after he observed the consequences of Roman expansion. This kind of message and corruption of language that follows imperial domination is equally as appropriate today. Whatever forms our “deserts” take – whether it is the poppy fields of Afghanistan, or the “collateral damage” and destruction of the Middle East – the US are still making “deserts” and calling them “peace”. The recent round of US bombings in Syria and Iraq is the latest chapter in the Washington’s decades-long attempt to bring peace, democracy and freedom to the region at the point of a gun.
Once again, the US has corrupted the language to justify the bombing of its official enemies. Elijah J. Magnier explains that two recent US attacks on both the Iraqi and Syrian sides of the border were not, as the Western media claimed, against “Iran-backed” militia facilities, but were targeted on popular mobilization forces that form part of the Iraqi security forces under the command of the Prime Minister. Sources in Baghdad close to Magnier told him that the Americans informed the Iraqi PM in advance about the attack on the Iraqi side of the border but refused to divulge its location.
Magnier says that this action not only violates the country’s sovereignty, but also the contract and agreement the Americans have signed off to be in Iraq as advisers, trainers and as supporters for the war on ISIS. Third, the US attack which Magnier says destroyed buildings and Iraqi army positions killing four members of the security forces, undermines the assurances made by the Americans that they will not maintain or engage their combat forces in the country.
Magnier adds that the bombing is also pertinent in terms of its impact on the Iran-US Nuclear Deal and the US imposition of 1,600 sanctions, 500 of which the latter intends to use as leverage in any forthcoming negotiations. “The Americans want to transform Iraq into a battlefield to sort out their problem with Iran”, says Magnier. Indeed, the US military have targeted operational and weapons storage facilities in Syria and Iraq with this in mind. According to one report, the attacks killed one child and wounded at least three other people.
For decades, successive American governments and their Western corporate media mouthpieces have attempted to cover up or underplay these kinds of indiscriminate atrocities because they are aware that their public exposure is counterproductive and undermines the winning of hearts and minds. This was vividly demonstrated, firstly, in Afghanistan from 2001 and then, most notably, in 2003 during the US occupation of Iraq.
There have been many turbulent episodes in the region since then. But it was the US assassinations of Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander, Abu Mahi al-Muhandis, in January 2020 that culminated in a point of no return for US-Iranian relations. As long as American forces remain in Iraq and Syria where they have no accountability for any of their occupations, atrocities and thefts of natural resources, their bombing objective will send a message to Iran and the conflict in the Middle East will continue.
Mediation in the region that precludes any American involvement, appears to be the only realistic way of ending the impasse:
“The Middle Eastern leaders can sort out their problems on their own. They can sit around the table and talk and try to sort out their differences. The Americans are not giving up on their hegemony of the Middle East. They want to stay there and control it and are afraid of Russia or China or any other country moving in. They’re not even allowing the European continent of countries to move in and have their share”, says Magnier.
But what the US appear to have underestimated is the strength of Iran which Magnier describes as having “reached the level of empowerment” embodied in the coming together of an harmonious trio of President, Supreme Leader and Shura Council Speaker. In addition, the country has at its disposal advanced technological and nuclear research programmes and military capabilities as well as strong regional allies.
The third element of strength is the extent to which Iran has been able to turn its back on Donald Trump’s lack of commitment to, and revocation of, the JCPOA nuclear deal. Iran is now turning to China and Russia to create the kind of cooperation where they managed to fill up the gap that the West was not willing to do for fear of the US elections.
Magnier says that the medium to long term aim of the US is to “turn Iran into a shark without teeth” by requesting that the country reconsider its missile programme and relationship with its allies as a condition for Washington’s return to the nuclear negotiating table. But Iran’s leverage in terms of its nuclear project is such that it will not concede to these requests unless the Americans remove all sanctions which they are unlikely to do.
As Magnier explains:
“The conclusion is simple: It is no longer an impossible or even difficult path for Iran to arm and equip itself with all necessary military power to defend itself. It is in a position to show its capabilities and persuade other countries they should avoid a direct war against the “Islamic Republic”.
An emboldened Iran naturally brings the wider geopolitical question of the Middle East into sharp focus, particularly in relation to the Palestinian issue and America’s unconditionally loyal partner, Israel. Magnier asserts that it is not Iran that represents an existential threat in the region but nuclear armed Israel which has waged wars against its neighbours ever since its foundation.
“It’s carried out over a thousand attacks on Syria. They started trying to sabotage Iranian ships and tankers in the Strait of Hormuz or in the Mediterranean. If Israel reached the convention, that it needs to give a state to the Palestinians according to the Oslo agreement and all the international agreements and the 187 U.N. resolutions in favour of Palestine and to implement these, then it’s the end of conflict in the Middle East”, says Magnier.
Given the predominance of American exceptionalism in the region, any intervention by independent players to help alleviate seemingly intractable issues and long-standing conflicts from a multipolar perspective, seem to be at present, unlikely.
In fact, by imposing sanctions on Syria and Lebanon and not allowing China or Russia to reconstruct neither their infrastructure nor Iraq’s, the US are exacerbating the problems.
“The US are afraid of China and Russia and they don’t want them to move in, but they are not offering an alternative. So either you die or you die, but we’re not going to support you and we’re not going to allow other countries to support you. That’s the philosophy of the Americans in the Middle East”, says Magnier.
The current impasse, however, is one in which the analyst argues is not tenable and predicts that within two years an ‘axis of resistance’ stretching from Gaza to Lebanon to Syria to Iraq and to Yemen will push the Americans out, thus enabling the axis to take over and organize their own societies.
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